Thursday 29 September 2016

Online marketplaces launch light mobile apps to smoothen online shopping experience
Leading ecommerce companies are pulling out all stops to ensure that their festival sales are a thumping success. The two main players in the ring, Amazon and Flipkart, are trying to outdo each other in the popularity front to ensure better conversion. Both companies are looking at keeping their mobile versions light for a better user experience.

What is new?

Flipkart has collaborated with companies that are behind some of the top web browsers to bring out its light mobile website.
“We reached out to Google Chrome — and then went to other browsers. What has happened in the last nine months, in order to reach out to as many customers as possible, we worked with browsers like UCWeb and Opera Mini,” confirms Amar Nagaram, VP of engineering at Flipkart.
The hard work has paid off, says Nagaram.
“Before we launched Flipkart Lite, we realized that our mobile site was actually not converting as much as our app. The amount of effort we were putting in on both the website and the app and the returns on the respective channels were not even comparable,” he said.
Things are better now, “On our previous mobile site, people used to spend 70 seconds — now people are spending close to four minutes. People are engaging with the mobile site more.”
Likewise, Amazon has also launched its light site. Amit Agarwal, head of Amazon India, says that the mobile site works perfectly in mid-range phones. He says,
“If you take a low-spec feature phone and try to download the Amazon app from the app store, it actually downloads a different app which is less than 2Mbs. It’s the lightest e-commerce app out there.”
This is mainly to reach the suburban and rural parts where 3G and 4G are yet to gain traction.

Expert speak

Analysts are not too impressed. Rutvik Doshi, director of Inventus (India) Advisors, a venture capital company feels that companies can do their lightest, but conversion and sales depends solely on the country’s economy. He says,
“When it comes to purchasing power, only about 50-100 million Indians have that luxury. Unless the GDP of the country grows at 10% over the next 5-10 years, it’ll be tough to see India matching the kind of numbers that you saw in China.”
So unless people get wealthier, all the light apps might just be shots in the dark.

Amazon, Snapdeal, eBay & other ecommerce firms served with showcause notice for selling refurbished goods
Amazon and 20 other ecommerce portals are facing trouble with the law over refurbished products. According to reports, the digital platforms have been slapped with showcause notices from the government due to the import and resale of used and refurbished mobile phones in India.
According to the notice issued, all 21 online retail firms have been asked to stop importing any used electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). Only a year ago, Amazon partnered with GreenDust in April and Surplus (refurbished smartphone purchaser) in August. But until the legal satiation is cleared up, there will be no mutual benefits emerging from these partnerships.

Why the sudden ban on Amazon’s refurbished goods?

The Environment Ministry claims it has noticed that the online shopping platform was violating both the Hazardous and Other Waste (Management and Trans boundary Movement) Rules and E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules.
It is compulsory to obtain the Environment Ministry’s permission before exporting or importing any waste items for recycling or reuse, say the Hazardous Waste Rules. The same rules also state that EEE items are included in this category of refurbished goods. The Importer, brand owner or retailer must acquire prior consent from the Central Pollution Control Board in the form of Extended Producer Responsibility authorization. According to this, the producer must take responsibility for the collecting and channelizing e-waste produced from ‘end-of-life’ products.
So, on 23rd September, the ministry filed a legal notice to Amazon stating, “Stop the import/shipment of used and/or refurbished EEE immediately.”
If not, courses of action will be pursued as under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act. According to reports, Amazon is not the only top etailer in the midst of this refurbished mess. Snapdeal and resellers eBay, Olx and Quickr have been asked to stop EEE imports like Amazon.

What are Amazon and the remaining 20 required to do?

The court order mentions, “You are directed to show cause why action shall not be initiated against you for the above stated violations within 15 days, failing which action shall be initiated.”
If unable to prove why action should not be taken against them, the 21 ecommerce companies are looking at maximum punishment of up to 5 years in jail and/or a fine of Rs.1 lakh, as per section 15 of the Environment Protection Act.
The order further declares that, “In case the e-commerce fails to comply with the above directions from the date of issue of this direction, the ministry will be constrained to initiate proceedings against the said company under provisions of Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act.”

How will Amazon defend itself before the court?

Will the etailer claim it is not at fault because it is simply a marketplace and third parties conduct the actual sale? It seems like it will based on its spokesperson’s response to the whole showcause issue.
The following statement was made by Amazon’s spokesperson, We are compliant and will always remain compliant with local laws. is a marketplace where goods are all sold by third party sellers. However, we have noted the concerns flagged by the Ministry of Environment and are conducting a detailed evaluation, working closely with our sellers, partners and the government to ensure our commitment to compliance continues.”

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal set to play game of ecommerce thrones this Diwali
The fight for power is just few days away as the ecommerce trinity Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have announced their October festive sales.  Amazon will run its ‘Great Indian Festival’ sale from October 1 – 5.  Snapdeal’s Diwali Dhamaka and Flipkart’s Big Billion will run from October 2 – 6.
Here’s what to expect and what not to expect.

No steep discounts?

No surprises here. Etailers are banned from influencing sale prices of products directly or indirectly and there’s a 25% cap on sales from single seller. Therefore, despite of the willingness to fund discounts, they can’t dole out deals like the previous years.
Instead, marketplaces’ focus will be on quality of service & products, improving consumer shopping experience and creative marketing campaigns. Flipkart has set aside Rs 30 crore for BBD marketing and advertising campaigns. On the other hand, Amazon India’s marketing budget is Rs 125-130 crore. And Snapdeal has already spent Rs. 200 crore on its rebranding project which coincides with festive campaigns.
But according to industry experts, in spite of the heavy ad expenses, this festive season’s combined sales figure won’t exceed Rs 10,000 crore.

Biggest spenders (sellers) to be rewarded by etailers

Since ecommerce biggies can’t splurge on discounts, they have urged sellers to spend on discounts, ads and promotions. And in return, the etailers will reward sellers by giving out incentives.
Amazon is working on an incentive program for top 200 spenders, whereas Flipkart has reserved Rs. 50 lakh to reward 2,000+ sellers.
One seller revealed,
“Amazon is focussing majorly on driving traffic and wants sellers to be more proactive through sponsored ads and promotions to drive sales.”
But with this push to give discounts, sellers are also being warned about not inflating the prices.
“Flipkart is keeping a close watch on sellers to ensure they don’t inflate price tags now and lower it during the festive sales so that consumers get genuine discounts. It may also have a few more festive discount sales in October to keep pace with Amazon,” according to a seller.

Biggies counting on smartphones and big appliances

Increasing sales of big ticket items is on every ecommerce firm’s agenda this Diwali. Amazon and Flipkart have tripled-quintupled its smartphones and consumer electronics stocks.
The Bansals-led company is also focusing on exchange and EMI programs, while Amazon is looking to rely on faster deliveries, sponsored ads. The etailers also plan to boost festive sales of online only products & brands and private labels via its own sellers like WS Retail, Cloudtail and few others.
Snapdeal too is going to offer EMI facility and exchange offers.
The Kunal Bahl-led company said,
“In line with its positioning to offer upgraded options to its users, the sale will also provide pocket friendly exchange offers and convenient EMI options on electronics and mobile phones. Another special feature of the sale will be special Snapdeal Diwali packs curated by leading consumer brands.”
Sellers, are you willing take the burden of discounts on your shoulders? Are the incentives offered by marketplaces alluring enough? What are the special instructions given by etailers ahead of the festive season? Do share in the comments below.

Hot from the oven – Flipkart Walmart to join hands
The US based retail store chain Walmart is in talks with desi ecommerce bellwether Flipkart to work out an association. Walmart is considering buying a minority stake in the ecommerce company. The move will speed up Walmart’s entry into India. Both companies declined to comment on ‘rumours and speculations’.

The second attempt to enter India

Walmart had earlier tied up with the Bharti group, but in 2014, the deal broke off. The two had come together in 2007 to conduct wholesale activities. Walmart decided to step away after suffering losses to the tune of $151 million. There were issues related to FDI and a possible violation of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The latter prohibits American companies from bribing foreign government bodies.

The FDI blessing

Thanks to the updated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) law, foreign companies can invest 100% in Indian enterprises. This is exactly what Walmart is trying to do by obtaining a stake in Flipkart.

Walmart – Flipkart versus Amazon

Walmart and Amazon have an old rivalry that originated in their home ground and will now be played out on Indian soil. The former is trying to leverage the existing feud between Flipkart and Amazon. However, Amazon doesn’t seem to be perturbed by the goings on. The company has a good financial backing, plus its sales figures are well ahead of the others’.

Amazon introduces inspect & buy feature with 2 day return window; Do sellers approve?
There have been many trial and error launches by online marketplaces. Remember the Myntra app only strategy? How about the continuous policy revisions by Snapdeal and Flipkart? There is always room for improvement in Indian ecommerce and Amazon like its competitors thinks so too.
IOS was recently alerted about the new 2 day return policy from, by online seller Samir Ahluwalia.
He states, “Amazon has come with a new two day return policy. The same was visible on all products a couple of days back, but now has been taken down.” He claims that it was probably a policy trial run at the time, but now Amazon sellers have received confirmation of the policy.
“We have gotten confirmation from Amazon about the same and their return policy page has been accordingly updated. The new policy: Inspect & Buy 2-Day Return Window is at the bottom of the page,” Samir tells us

Inspect & Buy 2-Day Return Window

The new Inspect & Buy 2-Day Return Window applies to all the products with the Inspect and Buy label on the product detail page. These products can be inspected for 2 days from delivery and returned to the seller if the buyer is:
  • Not happy with the product
  • Receives damaged or defective products
  • No longer needs the product
Consumers will receive a refund too upon return within the given 2 days.

Inspect & Buy policy conditions as per category

In case of inspect and buy eligible products like the following:
  • Books
  • Mobiles
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Home d├ęcor and furnishing
  • Fashion
  • Jewellery
  • Baby clothing and women’s clothing
  • Handbags
Sellers will accept returns and provide refunds only. The refunds provided will be applicable only if the product returned was not damaged while in the buyer’s possession and is not different from what was shipped to the buyer.

Seller opinions towards the Amazon policy

In June, IOS covered the Amazon return policy loopholes. Online seller Samir seems to see them too. He belongs to the electronics category and sells under the brand Techtail India. He says this new policy has a major issue.
“Buyers can still open a mobile phone’s packaging and use it for 2 days before returning it. This policy is just a replacement of the ’10 day no questions asked’ policy. In this case, the only difference is the reduced 2 day period,” Samir explains.
He goes on to state, “The problem with Amazon return policies are that they are only good on paper. The moment an item is picked up by the logistics executives they don’t even consider inspecting the item.”
What about you? Do you think this is an improvement worth raving about? Or could it use a couple of tweaks? Let us know in the comments section below!

Cataloguing on Paytm: How to add products in bulk?
Product information is a big deal in online retail. It’s this information that consumers use to make the final purchase decision. To ensure attraction towards your products turns into a purchase, informative details about the product must be provided.
Go the extra mile by changing the content according to the season; for example festive season or product peak season. Also, update your catalogues regularly to keep things interesting for the consumer.
Paytm believes true and concise information can help its online sellers secure consumer trust. This it says will:

  • Minimize returns
  • Increase sales

The etailer recently shot out an email to emphasise the best cataloguing practices.
(Obtained from Paytm email to online sellers)
(Obtained from Paytm email to online sellers)
For better understanding, Paytm has also created a self-help how-to guide for online sellers to thoroughly understand the procedure on their platform. So, let’s see how Paytm cataloguing works for bulk products.

How to catalogue bulk products on Paytm

First, sign into the Paytm seller panel and select the catalogue option on the left of the screen. Now select the Add New Product button on the right. The new screen will show the option Create New Products in Bulk select that option.
How to catalogue bulk products on Paytm First sign into the Paytm seller panel and select the catalogue option on the left of the screen. Now select the Add New Product button on the right. The new screen will show the option Create New Products in Bulk select that option.

Now the process splits into 3 sections:

  1. Select categories
Here you select the category and sub-category. Sellers can directly select the category they desire by typing it in the search bar or looking it up in the list on the screen.
  1. Upload images
The next step involves product image uploading.
For this, you must browse for the product images in bulk. Before any images are uploaded onto the seller panel they must be named comprehensively.
Next, you need to download the image CSV file with the names and URLs of all the images.
Copy all the URLs from the CSV file and add them to the Product Details Template.
  1. Provide details and submit
This section requires you to provide details about the product. It is further divided into 3 components:
A. Select brands – This is optional. It requires you to select one or more brands already listed on Paytm.
  • Only brands that are already listed on Paytm can be selected
  • New brands cannot be added here, for new brand listing a ticket must be raised with Merchant Helpdesk
  • The existing brands on the platform will appear in the product details template for you to select from
B. Download product details template – This involves downloading the CSV file and the instructions and guidelines to fill.
C. Upload product details – This is the part where you upload the product details template onto the seller panel. It is important for online sellers to read all the guidelines and instructions provided. To avoid any typos and errors you can copy corresponding values from the CSV.
There are mandatory and recommended fields in the product details template; make sure you fill all of them. Once complete it’s time to upload the template on the seller panel. The Paytm team will review the details provided after this.
In case any mandatory field in the template is not filled, the template will be rejected when uploading.
If this happens check the error log and make the additions and corrections where ever necessary.

Catalogue review and approval

Once the product details are submitted the Paytm catalogue team will review the information. Before approval is granted there are 3 different stages that the upload will go through:
Stage I – Pending approval
All new products go through this phase on Paytm until approval is granted. If approved, the product will go to the pending migration stage. If approval is not granted, the product will be at the correction required stage.
Stage II – Correction required
Should correction be required, the reasons for this will be stated on the seller panel. Accordingly changes can be made to the product details. If you do not want to change any details you can remove the product with the error from the listing. Once updated the catalogue will move into the pending stage once again as it will be reviewed once more to make sure the details are as per marketplace standards.
Stage III – Pending migration
After obtaining approval the catalogue will move into this stage. The products will then become live and active once migrated from the Paytm staging system to its live system. This should take a couple of hours.
Now that you know how to list in bulk on Paytm, what other marketplace procedure would you like to learn about? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.